Alain MIMOUN

At Melbourne in 1956, French athlete Alain MIMOUN finally claimed his first marathon victory, beating his lifelong friend and rival, Czechoslovakia's Emil ZÁTOPEK.

Helsinki 1952 - Alain MIMOUN (FRA) double médaillé d'argent du 5000 m et 10000 m. (1952) by Comité International Olympique (CIO)The Olympic Museum

Alain MIMOUN

Alain MIMOUN, born on 1 January 1921, near Sidi-Bel Abbès, earned his legendary status on Algerian soil. At the age of eight, he ran dozens of kilometres through the woods to help his mother.  
He represented France from the Olympic Games in 1948 onwards.

Londres 1948, diplôme de vainqueur, attribué à Alain MIMOUN (FRA), médaillé d'argent du 10'000m. (1948) by Comité International Olympique (CIO)The Olympic Museum

London 1948

Alain MIMOUN won silver in the 10,000-metre race in London in 1948.
His career was inextricably linked to that of his greatest adversary and friend, Emil ZÁTOPEK. Always the eternal runner-up, Mimoun's moment of glory finally came at the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956, where he won gold in the marathon.

Londres 1948, médaille de vainqueur, attribuée à Alain MIMOUN (FRA), médaillé d'argent du 10'000m., Comité International Olympique (CIO), 1948, From the collection of: The Olympic Museum
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Londre 1948 - Maillot d’Alain MIMOUN (FRA), exposé au Musée Olympique à Lausanne, Comité International Olympique (CIO), 1948, From the collection of: The Olympic Museum
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Helsinki 1952 OG, Athletics Men - Two great champions and rivals: Emil ZATOPEK (TCH) and Alain MIMOUN (FRA). (1952-07-20) by Comité International Olympique (CIO)The Olympic Museum

Helsinki 1952

Reflecting on his Olympic journey, MIMOUN said : " I look at my career as a castle : my London silver medal (1948) is the foundation; my two Helsinki silver medals (1952) are the walls and my gold medal in Melbourne (1956), the roof ".

Film olympique "Alain Mimoun" (version originale française restaurée), réalisé par Louis Gueguen en 1959. Productions DMD / Louis Gueguen, CSA Film Productions, 23 min, noir et blanc, FR (2014) by Comité International Olympique (CIO)The Olympic Museum

Melbourne 1956 – "Alain Mimoun" Olympic film

Melbourne 1956: Alain MIMOUN's crowning achievement

On 1 December 1956, 45 competitors set off on the 42.195 km race. At the halfway point, MIMOUN found himself alone in the lead. On the way back, he crossed paths with ZÁTOPEK, who hadn't settled into his usual stride. He realised then that Zátopek wouldn't win. MIMOUN claimed victory in 2 hours, 25 minutes, ahead of Yugoslavia's Franjo MIHALIĆ and Finland's Veikko KARVONEN.

Melbourne 1956, Alain MIMOUN (FRA), marathon (1956) by Comité International Olympique (CIO)The Olympic Museum

MIMOUN, the superstitious runner

Alain MIMOUN, wearing bib number 13, donned a handkerchief knotted at four corners, embroidered with the initials of his wife, Germaine MIMOUN, to protect himself from the scorching heat (36 degrees). 

Melbourne 1956, MIMOUN (FRA), à l’arrivée (1956) by Comité International Olympique (CIO)The Olympic Museum

Melbourne 1956

MIMOUN completed the 42.195 km race without taking a drink. According to the coaches of the time, it was not advisable to drink while running. 
Today, the scientific approach to a marathon runner's nutrition has significantly evolved !

Melbourne 1956 - Alain MIMOUN (FRA) (1956) by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesThe Olympic Museum

The return to France

Upon his arrival in Orly, MIMOUN spoke to his wife via radio. A few hours before the marathon, he received a telegram and thought he was the father of twins, as there was an " s " at the end of the word "babies". 
He eventually found out that his wife had given birth to a daughter, whom they named Pascale-Olympe. 

Credits: Story

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